A few nights ago, I was Skyping with a good friend of mine—hi Alicia!—who moved to Shanghai this past summer. We caught up about everything from her Mandarin class to our Halloween costumes, but perhaps one of the most interesting discussion points was Shanghai's bike culture. Because it really was that interesting, I decided to share it with you all through, you guessed it, this blog post!
Since the train can be extremely difficult to navigate, Alicia chooses to get around the city by bike. Plus, cycling was the main form of transportation until about 15 years ago, and even with more and more cars on the road now, cyclists have maintained their sense of dominance in Shanghai.
According to Alicia, you have to be sort of self-centered when biking in Shanghai. To bike like a local means you have to be willing to get a bit aggressive, to cut in front of cars when they’re not moving as fast as you’d like, or to cross the street on a red light while there are still cars in sight. Even on one-way streets, you can bet your bottom dollar you'd see several cyclists commuting the opposite direction!
One of my favorite parts of our conversation had to be when Alicia told me about Tuesday night bike rides. I mean, can you say that you get together with 200 of your favorite biker friends every Tuesday when the clock strikes 9 PM? Alicia can! On these Tuesday night adventure rides, the bikers of Shanghai definitely don't stop for lights and blaze by so quickly that Alicia often loses the pack (whoops, now Alicia's secret is out!).
Though Alicia is still getting used to the bike culture in Shanghai, and probably applying the brakes and accessorizing with a helmet more frequently than the local riders, she is already anticipating the difficulty she’ll have adjusting back to biking when she returns to the States next year.
If you live somewhere with an awesome bike culture, please let us know! We'd love to hear all of your stories.